here is a sacred contract between a democratic government and its citizens — it is premised on the belief that the state shall strive to promote the welfare of the people. It got a body blow after 8 pm on November 8 during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement that Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 would not be legal tender from midnight.
The devil was not in the demonetisation per se but in the seemingly innocent details that underlined the move: you can withdraw only Rs 2,000 (now raised to Rs 2,500) from the ATM per day. You can exchange old notes worth Rs 4,000 only (now brought down to a paltry Rs 2,000 and to ensure that it is a one-time exchange, your finger will be marked with indelible ink). You can withdraw only Rs 20,000 per week (now raised to Rs 24,000).
For the second time in a week, the Centre has faced tough questions on the notes ban from the Supreme Court, which cautioned on Friday: “We will have riots on the streets.”
Chief Justice of India TS Thakur said petitions challenging the ban on Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 notes indicate the magnitude of the problem.
“You have scrapped 500 and 1,000, but what happened to the 100 rupee note?” the Chief Justice asked the government, referring to the daily scramble for cash across the country and the punishing queues outside banks and ATMs.
ATMs, the government replied, need to be recalibrated because they have a “single drawer” for Rs. 100 notes. For thousands, this has meant that cash dried up long before they could reach the top of the line after several hours.